Bill & Jim's Alaska Trip

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July 16
Fairbanks to Dawson City, YT

Taylor Highway Area

Along the Taylor Highway

The sign says it all

And there it is!

Gold Dredge along highway

Dredge trommel

Alaska-Yukon border

Border Station

Tundra at the border

Dawson City

Dredge No. 4

Tailing Stacker

We left Fairbanks for points East. Driving down the Richardson Highway, we saw the suspension bridge where the Alyeska pipeline crosses the Tanana River - an impressive structure.

After Tok, we turned onto the Taylor Highway. This is a good condition gravel road that runs from Tetlin Junction, through Chicken to Eagle. Chicken is a one-block town. The sign on the storage tank at the gas station says it all.

Eagle is a very well-preserved town. Much of the entire town is on the National Register of Historic Places. Fort Egbert is nearby, and has some restored structures. The fort was founded in the 1880's, but was most notable for its involvement in the military telegraph project that went from Washington State to Nome, Alaska and then on to Eagle and Valdez. The line from Washington to Nome was a submarine cable.

Leaving Eagle, we came upon an abandoned gold dredge along the highway. A dredge has a conveyor-type boom with buckets on it. This is lowered into the 'pay gravel' and scooped up. This gravel travels through the 'trommel,' a rotating pipe pierced with holes of graduated size. This separates the gold-bearing gravel from the waste, which travels up a conveyor and deposited behind the dredge. The remaining gravel is then sluiced and the gold is separated from the rest of the gravel.

On to the Alaska-Yukon Territory border! The Canadian customs house consists of a small office building and a house trailer. The customs agent came out of her trailer, adjusted her dinner cooking on a barbecue grille and came over to ask the usual questions. The scenery around the border is quite astounding! It is easy to see why the road is called the 'Top of the World' highway.

After many miles of road construction, we came to the ferry across the Yukon River into Dawson City. The ferry boat is tiny and a road construction crew had just recently finished work for the day, so the ferry crossing took quite a while (90 minutes). Dawson is a lively city, with many restaurants and at least one casino.

East of Dawson City, we toured a partially-restored gold dredge (Dredge No. 4). This dredge (and its sister) were the largest wooden-hulled dredges in North America. It was capable of processing up to 18,000 tons of gravel per day.
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